Friday, May 11, 2012

CBR IV Review #17,18,19 - The Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts

“Do you know what happens when you always look before you leap?" She reached out and touched his hand before hurrying toward the door. "You hardly ever make the jump.”- Key of Light

Yes, I know.  Another Nora Roberts' trilogy. Deal.  My life has been filled with busy, occupying things, good and bad, and reading her books is like curling up on the couch under a warm blanket with some tea - it's comforting, easy and relaxing.  And there's only one more Roberts' review (of the newest volume in a trilogy she's yet to finish) coming up on my slate.  I read it after this series, and then moved on to other things.  So there.  :-)

The Key Trilogy is the story of three women in rural PA who are ask to complete a quest.  Malory, Dana and Zoe, who have never met, find themselves the guests of a mysterious couple who live up on Warrior's Peak.  Rowena and Pitte, two gods thrown down to our world as punishment, task the women with finding three keys to unlock a box containing the souls of three sister demigoddesses who were imprisoned there by an evil sorcerer god named Kane.  There is monetary incentive, which is important, since all three women find themselves in a state of personal disaster - each is on the brink of losing their jobs, or have just lost one.  So the excitement and the money spur all three to sign up, despite the consequences - should they fail, they will each lose a year of their lives.  In the process, the three women not only bond with each other, but become business partners, creating a triple threat business called Indulgence, which is part art gallery (for Malory), part book shop (for Dana), and part salon/spa (for Zoe).

First up, in Key of Light, is Malory, the artist.  Each book chronicles each woman's search for the key, their bond with a goddess (one of art, one of knowledge, one of courage - and who resemble the women, as indicated by paintings that become significant to plot), and, of course, their romantic entanglements.  It's not Roberts if there isn't romance, and the pairings are set up in this volume.  There are the three women tasked with the challenge, and three men who are best friends and connected to two of the three girls before the events of the books take place.  Malory works in a Gallery, since she never had the talent to create art herself, but certainly knows how to value it.  She falls for Dana's step brother, Flynn, and their relationship is essential to locating and acquiring her key.

Key of Knowledge is all about Dana, and mostly about her troubled past with author Jordan Hawke.  He left her without hardly a word after his mother died, and she still holds a grudge.  But like with Malory, addressing her feelings for Jordan (and vice versa) is essential to her journey for the key.

The final volume, Key of Valor, is about Zoe, the single mom.  She has a LOT more going on in terms of depth of story.  Zoe comes from a trailer park in West Virginia, and is a young single mother who made her own way in the world when the baby's father refused to be involved.  She's a powerful character, accustomed to doing everything herself, and as such, getting regular help from Brad, the third of the men, is hard for her.  She has to overcome a great deal to get to her key, and ends up being the most active in destroying Kane for good before they release the demigoddess's souls.

I enjoyed all of these, but Zoe's story was by far my favorite.  Her relationship with her son, Simon, is beautiful.  And her character is so dense and interesting.  Her obstacles when it came to both the key and to accepting Brad's advances (and help in general) were complicated and real.  She felt the most fleshed out of all three women, though obviously she benefited by being the last - I had two other books to get a basic knowledge of her and the world they lived in before delving into her story.

I also loved the relationships between everyone.  It was such a happy group of friends, who really created their own family.  I think it's very true that as adults, we have different family than who we are born into.  The older you get, the more you start making your own family out of the important people in your life, and that's especially true here.  Does it all happen a little faster in the books than in reality?  Sure, but it's fiction.  That doesn't diminish the sincerity of the feeling between everyone.  And the dialogue is written in such a way that I had no trouble believing the men had always been friends, while the women were still finding their footing.

Overall, another great read!

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